18th April 

It’s exactly a year and one day since I ran the London marathon.  All that’s happened since then is flashing before me like a Team America/Rocky V montage.  I remember how it felt the following day, physically crippled, emotionally drained, sitting on my bed, fingers poised over the keyboard.  Desperately wanting to write about it all, but not having a clue where to start – and that was a 5 hour race.  Well 5 hours and 10 minutes to be precise, and its running – one of the most solitary things you can do.  So, what the hell do I do with this month-long intensive?  An experience that was just as much about the people I met and befriended, as it was the time spent on the mat.

I figure if I just wake up each day and write what I feel like writing it will all come out in the end.  I know I want to write.  To what degree of detail I’m not so sure just yet…By getting it all down, by articulating it in the way I feel most comfortable (writing) I feel like its my way of processing (observing) and then letting go…If I don’t write it all down then it just mulls and skulks about in my head, like some sort of dissatisfied exotic creature waiting for a dinner that I don’t have the means to prepare.  Its grace and magnificence, soon becoming snarly and intimidating.  But, that doesn’t mean that I necessarily want to primp and preen this exotic creature and then put it on display in a glass case for everyone to see.  Where’s the grace and magnificence in that?

One of the simplest, and probably most brilliant, things about the course, relied on the time Matthew took in facilitating trust.  And not just Matthew, but the group itself.  How we responded to the personal development exercises, took risks and put ourselves on the line every now and again, having faith that we would be accepted, and not judged by the rest of the group.

He launched straight into it.  On our second day I think.  Paired up and leading people around the room with blind folds on, facing each other and saying exactly what we saw – crooked nose, big tits, dimple in the left cheek.  How we felt about each other, the situation…no likes, or thinks, just feel.  I feel nervous, I feel uncomfortable, I feel trusting, scared, sick, whatever it was that we were feeling.  Learning how to share and accept personal things that we don’t ordinarily share.  It sounds so simple, but honestly it’s not.  I can’t believe how much we sensor ourselves.

I think at the time a few of us were thinking, “wtf is all this about?  We’re meant to be doing yoga aren’t we?”

But as immediately as the next day, I could see what a difference it made to our practice.  We’d just spent the previous afternoon being completely honest with each other, and ourselves, so we could drop any masks or fears that we had.  There was nothing to be afraid of anymore.  Each standing on our mats – this is me, this is my practice, and I know that no-one is here to judge.

Why don’t we do this kind of thing at work, at school, in relationships?  Wouldn’t life be so much more fulfilling, productive if we could strip out all of that self-preservation bull-shit?

Its one of the questions and concerns that came up time and time again.  “But Matthew…” hands raised at question time on Friday lunch-time.  It’s great that we can be this open and share so much with this group of people that we trust, but what about the real world?  What about going back to work (if we have jobs…) our families, friends?  Where bursting out into tears half way through a meeting, fanning our wetted cheeks and saying, “just experiencing the emotion….carry on”; or taking ourselves off to the corner of a room for some calming pranayama and chakra meditation may not be quite so readily accepted…embraced.

“Experiment,” he told us.  Experiment.  Take some time thinking of those you love who are open, supportive of this journey and then try to share…bits and pieces, where and when it feels right – and see what happens.  Don’t expect everyone to understand, or demand that they do.  Be grateful to those that are willing to listen.  Be grateful for those that aren’t.

I have two things to think about when writing this blog.

1) Experimenting with what I’m willing and ready to share.  I’m lucky in that my parents, my close friends, people who have been following this blog seem genuinely interested in what I’ve been getting up to and what my experiences have been thus far, whether they’re yogis or not, but this past month has gone much deeper than what asana I’m currently stuck on…still Bhujapadasana if you must know ; )  It’s all quite raw and revolutionary.  With all the happiness and wonderful things that have come from this – I’ve also got some sites of destruction to clean up, some uncomfortable realities to face up to.

2) Taking into consideration and respecting the circle of trust.  I’ve already asked permission from the group regarding the blog and whether they’re happy with me writing about the experience.  All say yes.  In fact, there was quite a lot of cheeks-burning-brightly-laughter and debate about how certain scenarios would play out in the written word, and all in all there was an inherent trust that whatever I write is coming from a place of love and kindness.  Still, I think, no, I feel like I need to write a disclaimer of sorts.  What I write herein, is purely me.  My projections, my interpretations, my feelings, my thoughts, my story.  I take full responsibility for any judgments that may arise, and promise to listen to and trust my inner conscience of what is fair to share, and what is best left right there, in the floor and walls, of the now empty shala…